The last forest plan was concluded in 1986 and was overdue for an update. More years were spent during the update planning. During this time in meeting after meeting and in letter after letter we attempted to bring the old Growth set aside into the update but was met each time with the reply that “it is not on the table”. 
Finally in 2006 the plan appeared for review. Hour upon hour upon hour was spent reviewing each page within 6 inches of the plan and related material. Notes were taken, reviewed and consolidated. On August 2, 2006 our appeal was submitted to the Forest Service in Washington DC. 
When the list appeared of people and organizations that were appealing we were not on the list. According to the Forest Service they never received our appeal. The mistake was mine for not sending it registered mail. Apparently I left one number off the address which was correct and the sub zip code was used. Their response to us was tough luck. A call was placed to U.S. Senator Carl Levin’s office who referred me to their Detroit office, who referred me to the Traverse City office who advised that it was not their area but they would take care of it. Instead of direct contact with the USFS in Washington it was referred to the local forest chief, who passed it on the Washington, who sent the message to us “As we told you before”. Did they receive our appeal? Sure they did. Our appeal envelope has never been returned. 
Mark Patterson, a retired Forest Service forester has appealed the plan through about 21 pages of damning information. He found it unbelievable that there was not outrage by the hunting community and their organizations. Because of his information we were able to convince Michigan United  Conservation Clubs (MUCC) to appeal at the last minute. 
A great deal of effort was spent on our appeal knowing that all appeals will be rejected because the Forest Service did not violate some rule or regulation in their planning process. In the near future hunting for many species of game birds and animals on the Huron-Manistee will be a thing of the past. Our appeal in it’s entirety follows.
– Jim Maturen 

Dear Appeal Deciding Officer:

 The Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association (MWTHA) hereby registers Notice of Appeal of the Record of Decision to the 2006 Huron-Manistee National Forest Plan and the Final Impact Statement signed by Regional Forester Randy Moore. This appeal is filed pursuant to 36 CFR part 217 and is timely according to 217.8. 

The Service has failed to recognize and address serious issues raised by MWTHA which forces us to resort to the administrative appeals process. We have submitted letters dated 11/17/02, 11/10/03, 6/6/05 and have had a direct meeting with the forest supervisor and staff. At every planning meeting we raised our concerns all to no avail. It appears that the forest plan revision was cut in stone even before public input was received. 
The Old Growth amendment was part of the 1986 plan. As every portion of the 1986 plan was open for discussion so should the Old Growth set aside have been. Despite our repeated requests to open this issue up for discussion and possible refinement we were told that it “was not on the table”. This was a gross error by the Forest Service. Because of the severe impact to many wildlife species that require early successional forests now located in the Old Growth areas the location and amount should be modified. The Record of Decision acknowledges that approximately 35 percent of the registered hunters in Michigan hunt on National Forests. Throughout our appeal this is a central issue. Because of the proximity to the population centers of southern Michigan the Huron-Manistee receives the lions share of hunter recreation. If the Forest Service is honestly managing the Huron-Manistee for the public then Alternative B (the selected plan) and the Old Growth designation, that will result in the termination of hunting in the near future, should be discarded in favor of Alternative A (the 1986 plan) with modifications. 
Because the set aside of 173, 000 acres of no management Old Growth within wide continuous swaths of riparian corridors and establishment of at least two new Research Natural Areas 23,547 acres of Deer Emphasis Areas will disappear. The 1986 plan lists 37,105 acres of Deer Emphasis that is being reduced to 14,033 acres. These are traditional, ancient winter yarding areas of deer and winter habitat for many species of non migrating wildlife. Until Old Growth designation of these areas, that contain some of the most critical habitat found on the Huron-Manistee, they were managed to provide a food source and thermal cover. In addition 2,000 acres of managed wildlife openings were located within the newly designated Old Growth. These were established for specific wildlife values. These will also disappear, not to be replaced. This fiasco reflects the entire plan update and is totally unacceptable to our organization. The plan must be modified to reflect the adverse effect it will have on wildlife and their habitat. 
According to the Michigan Breeding Bird Survey fully 30 percent of about 70 songbirds dependent on Aspen are declining as compared to only 8 percent dependent on mature long lived trees. The 1986 plan is a legally binding commitment to those species dependent on Aspen. Aspen has declined by more than 35 percent due to the failure and refusal by the Huron-Manistee to maintain young stands through logging. It is estimated that there will be an additional loss of 40,000 acres of Aspen, which is critical for the subsistence of many wildlife species. 
The Old Growth acres contain about 21,672 acres of aspen/birch or 13.5 percent of this type. The loss of these thousands of acres of Aspen through conversion to other types is unacceptable and more reason why Old Growth designation must be modified. Old Growth was supposed to be representative throughout the forest. It is now tied up in large blocks and extensive corridors which defy professional forest management principles. 
Ruffed Grouse have been selected as an indicator specie. Listed for their habitat and population objectives the Forests will maintain a minimum of 1,750 breeding pairs on the Huron-Manistee. 2.5 acres of aspen 0 to 9 years old will maintained per pair. This sums up to two grouse for every 560.19 acres (about one square mile) or one grouse for every 280 acres of national forest. This sums up the thrust of game management in Alternative B. This is token wildlife management at it’s worst and reflects the severe shortcoming of aspen management under this plan. There must be reconsideration and changes in grouse management. 
The 1986 plan indicated that oak conversions to other types were to be prohibited. Our research finds no record of oak-pine barrens existing prior to pre-settlement, although there may have been some prairie land in Newaygo County.  The 2206 plan calls for the recreation of 68,000 acres of barrens. 20,300 acres of oak will be clearcut and lost to create barrens that will be up to 500 acres in size. 
Of the many tree species found on the forest oak is considered the staff of life for many of the forest’s wildlife species. It is common knowledge that regeneration of oaks has been a problem on these forests. The loss of 20,300 acres of oak through clearcutting and conversion to barrens defies best management practices and is totally unacceptable to our organization. There is regeneration of oak in the understory of jackpine, which will also be removed to create barrens. The 2006 plan does not consider oak conversion to other types as being a concern, nor the fact that the oak component has been reduced in the forests. Unbelievable! 
The 2006 plan harvest guidelines calls for using the clearcutting method to harvest oak and northern hardwoods with adequate advanced regeneration. Clearcutting aspen is an accepted method of regenerating aspen. Clearcutting oak and northern hardwoods defies best management practices and has not enhanced regeneration of these species on the Huron-Manistee in the past. 
The 2206 plan calls for producing 52 million board feet of low site oak and 171 million board feet of high site oak during the first decade. The harvest in the second decade would be one million board feet of low site oak and 105 million board feet of high site oak. Regeneration of oak on the Huron-Manistee has been a persistent problem and is non existent on most stands so how can there be a sustained yield? Obviously there can not be. 
Over the next 20 years 5,321 acres of low site oak are to be removed by clearcut. This defies accepted silvicylture practices for harvest of oak. This will result in the further loss of an oak component within the forests. 
 The 2006 plan will prohibit ground disturbing activities that were inconsistent with natural disturbance regimes within 80 percent of mesic northern hardwood areas. This provision would result in positive direct and indirect effects by reducing the negative impacts of timber management activities and allowing for an increase in potential (upland plant communities) habitat. To prohibit timber harvest on 80 percent of northern hardwood forests is neither justified or acceptable. Timber harvests can be conducted with minimum disturbance, such as harvests during peak winter months. 
The 2006 plan advises that despite a reduction in the amount of Deer Emphasis Area acres, the projected harvest of aspen and other tree species outside of Old Growth and deer emphasis areas, will maintain the viability of white-tailed deer on the Huron-Manistee National Forests. We disagree. The majority of Deer Emphasis Areas include the winter yarding areas and this will have a direct effect on survival of deer during severe winters. The section also states that this habitat provides for large populations of deer. We disagree with this broad statement. The deer herd population in the public forests of Michigan are severly suppressed. The Forest Service has indicated that there are too many deer on the Huron-Manistee without qualifying how many deer that there are. 
Proper timber harvests and wildlife management go hand in hand. The 2006 plan further reduces the availability of wood products from the Huron-Manistee which is a direct impact on a declining wood products industry and further detrimental impacts on the economy of northern Michigan. 

Our public forests should be showcases of wildlife management with an abundance of those species of wildlife dependent on forest habitat. Unfortunately, on the Huron-Manistee this is not the case. Traditional forest recreation apparently is acceptable although sport hunting is not to be encouraged but rather incrementally discouraged by reducing key habitats. 

Traverse Bay Chapter - Spring 2007 Update
Ausable River Chapter - Spring 2007 Update